LONDON: 28 November 2022
The rite of the consecration of antimensia performed at Nativity of the Mother of God Church in London

Prior to the celebration of Divine Liturgy of the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost, the rite of the consecration of new antiminsia was celebrated in the London Cathedral by His Grace Bishop Irenei of London and Western Europe. Twenty new antiminsia were consecrated for use in various parishes across the Diocese.

The antimins is the cloth on which every celebration of the Divine Liturgy is served, whether in the smallest Orthodox chapel or the grandest cathedral. It is a square cloth on which is depicted an icon of Christ being taken down from the Cross, and into which are sealed the sacred relics of martyrs and saints — thus carrying on a practice of Orthodoxy since the first centuries, that the Divine Liturgy is celebrated, literally, on the bones of the martyrs. As each antimins contains such relics within it, this tradition is thus carried forward in every parish throughout the world.

The consecration of an antimins is performed by a bishop as part of his apostolic office, together with his priests and deacons. During the rite, following a lengthy prayer by the Bishop and interspersed with many additional prayers and psalms, the specially-prepared cloth icon is ‘baptised’ with blessed rose-water, before being chrismated thrice with the same holy chrism by which every Orthodox Christian is also chrismated after his baptism. There then follows a procession in which the relics of the saints are brought into the Altar upon a diskos, each being blessed with chrism before being deposited into a special pocket sewn into the antimins and sealed therein with wax mastic — a special formation of wax cooked together with incense, mastic resin, spices and oils.

Each antimins is inscribed with details of its consecration, indicating that with the blessing of the Holy Synod of the Church Abroad it was consecrated by the named hierarch on a given date and in a given place, and for use in a specific Altar — all of which are written upon the cloth which is then signed by the Ruling Bishop. The antimins thus also serves as the bishop’s authorisation for Divine Services to be performed unto the glory of God in each given place.

While the initial antimins for each Orthodox temple is blessed at the time of the consecration of the church, new antiminsia are regularly needed for new missions and parishes, to replace older ones, etc. (since the antimins is unfolded and refolded at every Liturgy, with time the fabric deteriorates and needs to be replaced, with its sacred relics transferred to a newly-consecrated antimins). The separate rite of consecration of new antimensia is thus occasionally served in order to consecrate many antimensia together. On this occasion, Vladyka Irenei consecrated twenty antiminsia for such use throughout the Diocese, with the intention to consecrate nearly as many again in the near future.

The Divine Liturgy was celebrated upon all of the newly-consecrated antiminsia together, as will the Liturgies be throughout the coming week. At the end of the service, Bishop Irenei showed one of the newly-consecrated antiminsia to the faithful, explaining the importance of the relics to their liturgical life and the sanctity of the great blessing they had this day experienced.



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